173 Elizabeth Street (between Spring and Kenmare Streets)
New York, NY 10012
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360 Atlantic Avenue (between Hoyt and Bond Streets)
Brooklyn, NY 11217
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We opened our first storefront in November 2010 in a tiny space on Elizabeth Street, where Chinatown and Nolita meet. We kept the gorgeous tile floors and original pendant lamps, adding our own antique furnishings to showcase our jewelry. Friends helped us repair, paint and install the glass wall cases, which were built from Civil War-era picture frames (a gift from Erica’s dad, a collector of prints). We re-purposed a kitsch wall rack from a 1950s hardware store for hanging necklaces and earrings. And we were thrilled to find the centerpiece of the store: a glass-topped seamstress’s counter from the 1930s, with elaborate Art Deco wood inlay.
Erica’s decorating inspiration was a story from a 1911 edition of Ladies Home Journal, which followed the adventures of a young woman living in the big city for the first time. The woman spent her first year in a boarding house, where she had pinned paper ephemera, photos, and clippings to her walls in an attempt to make the temporary space her own. Erica tried to re-create the nostalgic feeling, using warm wood, quirky antique postcards and old advertising materials from the turn of the century to provide a backdrop for the jewelry. Designs from our popular collection are interspersed with unusual antique pieces, like celluloid prison rings, Victorian mourning lockets, and love-token charm bracelets. There’s a story behind everything we sell, so we type up descriptions for each of our mini-collections on a vintage Olivetti typewriter.
Erica’s own search for an extraordinary engagement ring inspired her to integrate a selection of antiques with the store’s inventory, and now it’s a destination for affordable engagement and wedding rings from the 1750s through the 1940s. We love Georgian rose-cut diamonds and Art Deco filigree mountings. The most special antique acquisitions serve as inspiration for 1909, our fine jewelry line, which is named for the year that Erica’s grandmother was born right here in New York City. These rings and earrings retain an antique look, but have some modern improvements.
In 2012, we decided we needed an outpost in Brooklyn, and the hunt for a storefront began. In October, homebound by Hurricane Sandy, Erica happened upon a listing for a Victorian storefront in historic Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, in the heart of the Atlantic Avenue shopping corridor. Upon visiting the space, she was captivated by details like original tin ceilings and an angled wood-and-glass façade. The building’s landlord told Erica about an archaeological dig that had taken place in the backyard of the property, where they had excavated a buried well and unearthed a treasure trove of 19th-century refuse, dating the building’s construction to 1854.
We signed the lease and set about designing an environment that would be lighter and more open, taking advantage of the increased square footage and sky-high ceilings. In lieu of the dark wood and brass that gave the Elizabeth Street store a feeling of cozy intimacy, Erica sought out rounded open cases accented with zinc, a light-colored metal with an iridescent finish. With more wall space to work with, she hunted for wallpaper, passing on several dense, Aesthetic Movement-style patterns before finding an original vintage print: bright green six-foot-high banana leaves, originally designed for Disney’s Polynesian Resort in the 70s. Rich moss-colored velvet accents and a barely-there green wall contributed to the Victorian-conservatory feel. In addition to the vintage-inspired Erica Weiner collection and a rare assortment of antique bridal jewelry, this store boasts an expanded selection of extra-special antiques, like a taxidermied hummingbird’s head set with rubies, made in the 19th century, and a massive Victorian locket made from gutta percha, complete with the original photo.
Even if you’re not shopping for “the ring,” there’s something for you in one of our stores. It’s hard not to walk out with a $6 name bracelet from the 1960s (we have thousands in a wire bin, and customers will dig for hours, turning up names like Penny, Norma, and Martha) or a pair of dead-stock earrings from the 70s and 80s (we have a whole wall of them for $16 per pair). Twice a year, we host blowout sample sales, in which we sell off our weirdest experiments, not-quite-perfect antiques, and production samples from developing our wholesale line throughout the year. We’d love for you to stop by, either in Nolita or Boerum Hill—we’ll regale you with stories about all of our special jewelry and tell you about all the other good spots in the neighborhood. See you soon!